The government has responded with the “same tired lines” to calls to boost childcare funding to cover national minimum wage rises due this spring, according to early years representatives. An online petition, started by owner of Little Hands Montessori Shaza Haq, calls on the government to increase funding levels for the 15 and 30 hours funded childcare offer, “for settings to survive”. The petition now has more than 14,000 signatures. Providers are already underfunded by more than £600m, according to independent analysts Ceeda, and are set to take a further hit when they are required to increase wages in April. Read more.